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John Willoughby Layard Papers
MSS 0084  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Preferred Citation
  • Provenance
  • Microfilm Edition
  • Biography
  • Processing Information
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Restrictions

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: John Willoughby Layard Papers
    Identifier/Call Number: MSS 0084
    Contributing Institution: Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego
    9500 Gilman Drive
    La Jolla, California, 92093-0175
    Languages: English
    Physical Description: 48.8 Linear feet (76 archives boxes, 16 card file boxes, 6 flat boxes, 4 oversize files)
    Date (inclusive): 1897 - 1974
    Abstract: Papers of John Willoughby Layard, English anthropologist and Jungian psycho-therapist. The collection includes extensive correspondence; drafts of Layard's writings, both published and unpublished; extensive notes and research materials; artifacts; and personal, patient and family materials. A significant proportion of the research materials and writings relate to Layard's anthropological work in Melanesia, including materials used in his book Stone Men of Malekula. Also included are voluminous materials relating to Layard's books The Lady of the Hare and "The Mary Book: The Snake, the Dragon, and the Tree" (unpublished).
    Creator: Layard, J. (John)

    Preferred Citation

    John Willoughby Layard Papers, MSS 84. Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego.


    Acquired from Dr. Richard Layard, London, England, 1989.

    Microfilm Edition

    The Layard Papers are available on microfilm. Reel and frame numbers accompany individual folder descriptions in the container list of this guide.


    John Willoughby Layard, English psychologist and anthropologist, was born in London on November 28, 1891. His parents were George Somes Layard and Eleanor Gribble Layard, he from a genteel parson's family; she from a wealthy mercantile household. The Layard family were minor nobility, descended from French Huguenots. John's great uncle was Sir Austen Henry Layard (1817-1894), a noted archaeologist and diplomat who had excavated the ruins of Ninevah. John's branch of the family had gone through most of its money by the time of his birth, and what funds remained went into the care of John's father, who was sickly. John had a sister Nancy, five years older; and a brother Peter, five years younger. Another brother died at age three, one year before John's birth. According to John, his home life was the most repressed of Victorian households, and he attributed his emotionally troubled young adulthood to this family background.
    Raised in Malvern, John was sent at the age of seven to the Priory School, a Malvern boarding school. At about eleven, his family moved to Felixstowe and he was transferred to Bedales, where he attended a co-ed school, then considered "progressive". In 1909 his family sent him to study in Paris and Berlin for a year. He then attended Cambridge University, where he became active in folk music and anthropological clubs. Most of his free time was apparently spent collecting the words of folk music.
    In 1914 W.H.R. Rivers, a Cambridge anthropologist, offered Layard the opportunity to go to the New Hebrides Islands in Melanesia with a group headed by Rivers and A.C. Haddon. Rivers and Layard split from the rest of the party and went to the island of Atchin, in Malekula. After a short time, Rivers left Layard alone on the island with the natives, in a small house which had been built by Catholic missionary priests who had been killed by the natives. Layard spent a year in Melanesia, mostly on Atchin, with three weeks on Vao and a few weeks in Australia. For most of the time he lived completely alone with the natives, teaching himself their language and songs, and making copious notes on all facets of their life. From the notes of his three weeks on Vao came his Stone Men of Malekula. His other notes have not been published.
    World War I had begun while Layard was en route to Melanesia. His brother Peter became an officer and was killed in France. When John returned to England he suffered a nervous breakdown, tried to enlist, was refused, was accepted into a government agricultural program, but was too ill to continue. His parents sent him to live with a Dr. Greer in Cornwall, who accepted "live-in patients." He then went to live with the Bagenal family, where he almost committed suicide (there is a suicide note in Bagenal file, Correspondence series).
    At this point Layard was introduced to psychologist Homer Lane, with whom Layard began his first psycho-analysis. Layard was making great progress until Lane was arrested and charged with immorality for having sexual relations with female patients. Lane died shortly thereafter, and Layard tried to continue his analysis and therapy with other analysts - first Stekel in England, then in Vienna in 1926, then to Wittels in Berlin.
    In Berlin, he joined David Ayerst, an English friend and the future editor of the Manchester Guardian. Layard then became part of the Berlin homosexual literary scene, and his friends included writers W.H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood. Having been introduced to Auden by David Ayerst, Layard "promptly fell in love." In 1929, Layard attempted suicide by shooting himself through the mouth. When he did not immediately die, he took a taxi to Auden's apartment and asked him to "finish the job." Auden called an ambulance and Layard survived.
    It was at this point, according to Layard's autobiography, that his life began. Back in England, Layard moved to Oxford and was introduced into the Department of Anthropology as "the best field man." He became part of the literary/professorial/artistic group surrounding Mansfield "Manny" Forbes, a well-known patron of the arts. Layard lived at the Forbes' home Finella for part of this time.
    At Oxford Layard met Doris Dingwall, wife of anthropologist Eric Dingwall. The Dingwall's had an open marriage. Layard and Doris fell in love and took up housekeeping together. On March 15, 1934, Doris gave birth to a son, named Peter Richard Granville Layard (known as Richard). Richard was to become a noted economist, and now teaches at the London School of Economics. Eric Dingwall refused at first to give Doris a divorce, but he relented in 1943, when Richard was nine years old.
    In the early 1940s Layard published his two best known works, Stone Men of Malekula and Lady of the Hare - the two monographs that appeared during his life. At the same time he started seeing patients as an analyst, and continued his own analysis with Baynes in Oxford, Jung in Zurich, and Gerhard Adler in Oxford.
    By the mid-1940's John and Doris were bitterly unhappy with each other. Both had converted to the Roman Catholic church. John returned to Zurich to work with Jung. There he began a seven-year love affair with Baroness Vera von der Heydt, also a therapist. Doris, who later became a psychotherapist herself, studied briefly with Jung's wife.
    Returning to England, Layard continued writing, publishing and lecturing, both in Great Britain and abroad. He became a sought-after analyst, yet remained unhappy with himself. In the early 1950's he began a second long-term love affair, this time with Dr. Lola Paulsen, another psychologist. John and Doris were eventually divorced, but continued a relationship. Lola Paulsen often called herself "Mrs. Layard," although she and John were never married.
    Despite his youthful illnesses, Layard lived in fairly good health until the late 1950's, when he was diagnosed as diabetic. In 1961 he was involved in a serious multi-car auto accident, for which he may have been partly responsible. Suffering a severe leg injury, he spent the following year in physical therapy. His eyesight grew worse, as did his hearing.
    In 1970 he bought property in Megavissey, intending to found an institution for "third-world" health. By "third-world" Layard meant a union between the mental and the physical worlds. His plans were interrupted by a violent physical attack from a neighbor, Lionel Miskin, who had become enraged over certain aspects of Layard's psychoanalysis of him and his wife. This incident was symptomatic of the extreme emotions that Layard often inspired in those who knew him well. Layard sued Miskin for assault and abandoned his plans for the institution. He then retired to Wardington House until his health improved.
    In 1972 John and Doris reconciled, and they lived together, apparently happily, until Doris' death in November, 1973. She was followed a year later by John, who died at Cowley Road Hospital, Oxford, on November 26, 1974, two days short of his 83rd birthday. Attending John Layard's funeral were Vera von der Heydt and Lola Paulson, his two long-time lovers besides Doris, who had remained friends with him and with each other, a sign of the intense feelings he often aroused in others.
    At several times during the last ten or fifteen years of his life, Layard had tried to retire from practice and write. He accomplished little, however, since many people continued to seek his professional help. It was not until after his death that A Celtic Quest and Atchin Dictionary were both published. His Lady and the Hare has been re-printed twice since then.

    Processing Information

    Prior to its acquisition by UC San Diego Library, the collection had been stored in the London home of Layard's son, Richard. When originally received by the Library, the collection had been arbitrarily packed into 33 boxes. Although the original order was difficult to ascertain, it was apparent that Layard had maintained his files in several alphabetical series, each covering approximately a decade. He had maintained his research materials and drafts of his books more or less by subject matter.
    In general, the processors have maintained the integrity of each file at the item level, but at the folder-level they have reorganized the materials in accord with the underlying intellectual order of the papers. For example, subseries containing family and financial correspondence were created, and drafts of a particular book were brought together. Un-annotated publications by others have been separated to the Library's general collection.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The John Willoughby Layard Papers provide extensive documentation on the multi-faceted life and work of an English intellectual. All aspects of Layard's life are represented in the collection, including his personal life, family affairs, anthropological investigations, psychoanalytical practice, writing, intellectual pursuits, and travel. In addition, the papers are of value to those studying the Melanesian area. A significant proportion of the research materials and writings relate to Layard's anthropological work in Melanesia, including materials used in his book Stone Men of Malekula. Also included are voluminous materials relating to Layard's books The Lady of the Hare and "The Mary Book: The Snake, the Dragon, and the Tree" (unpublished).
    The CORRESPONDENCE is the largest and most extensive series, containing communications between Layard and his colleagues in all his fields of interest - anthropology, psychology, and folk music. The bulk of Layard's own letters can be found in the "Family Correspondence" subseries, although very few of his replies are included in the "General Correspondence".
    Reprints of articles by correspondents, usually inscribed to Layard and annotated by him, are included with some files. Where indicated on the container list, files contain photographs as well. Correspondents are identified in the container list, where possible, as to profession and their relationship to Layard. Correspondence regarding research for or publication of Layard's writings are filed with the appropriate writings, in keeping with their original order. Patient/correspondents whose cases became the subject of a writing have their correspondence filed with those writings. Non-confidential patient correspondence is included in the "General Correspondence" (due to Layard's friendships with many of his former patients, he often corresponded with them on subjects not related to treatment).
    The correspondence is arranged in alphabetical order by surname of correspondent. Most files with an ending date of 1974 contain a letter of condolence on the death of John Layard, written to Richard. In general, correspondence for individuals represented by fewer than three items is filed alphabetically in miscellaneous files under the appropriate letter of the alphabet. However, some correspondence dated before 1930, which is purely of a personal nature (e.g., dinner invitations), is arranged chronologically and filed with the subseries "Subjects."
    Correspondents include a great number of anthropologists and psychologists. Among the most extensive is the correspondence with anthropologist W.H.R. Rivers and psychologist Carl Jung, Layard's two mentors. Even more extensive are Layard's references to Jung in his correspondence with Doris (1940's, found in the "Family Correspondence" subseries) and his dream descriptions, with Jung analyses, of the same period (found in the WRITINGS OF LAYARD series, "Autobiographical/Biographical" subseries). The files for Manny Forbes and Robin Bevan-Brown, in the "General Correspondence," contain extensive personal exchanges.
    Correspondents represented in the "General Correspondence" subseries also include noted writers, composers, concert musicians, artists, and actors. Interesting among the "General Correspondence" correspondence is a letter from Ken Burridge (1972) (and another from John Smith [1953] under Miscellaneous Melanesian Correspondence) indicating that Layard was still remembered in the folklore of the natives of Atchin. In the Gerhard Adler file there is a 1974 letter from Dr. Aldo Carotenato re publishing "The Making of Man" in Italian. In the Rolf Gardiner file is a letter from Jorniger Moorsan, 1927, expressing his disapproval of Gardiner's German exchange camp. Other significant correspondents are anthropologists Gregory Bateson, A.C. Haddon, Bronislaw Malinowski, and Alfred Radcliffe-Brown; writers W.H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood; composer Michael Tippett; and psychologists Gerhard Adler, and Homer Lane. In the subseries "Subjects," under Miscellaneous Personal Correspondence (box 17, folders 7-8) are a number of interesting letters, including: a letter from Austin Robinson, apparently a military officer in India, dated 1927, with an interesting description of life in Raj India; a letter from Mrs. Paul Robeson dated 1938 re coming to dinner at the Layards'; letters from Charles Beaumont, apparently Vera von der Heydt's father, 1949; a letter from publisher Richard de la Mare, 1956; and a letter from artist Walter Jonas, with a watercolor painting on the letter.
    Letters in the "Miscellaneous Requests to Publish or Write" include letters from Geoffrey Grigson, Irene Haccius (re: publishing in French), David Holt, Cynthis Rowland (re: publishing in Swedish), and Alice Meinhard (re: publishing in German) "Band Boy" Sherris, 1934; artist Vincent Stuart, 1941, offering to paint Layard's portrait; and artist Jane Wyatt, 1970, artist, saying Layard's portrait is ready.
    Letters in the "Miscellaneous Research for Layard" include those from Dr. L.D. Barnett, 1939; A.W. Gorme, 1940; A.C. Hardy, 1953, H.J. Rose, 1936, and H.S. Wadeley, c.1940.
    The subseries "Family Correspondence" is of great significance in that it contains numerous letters from John Layard himself. Layard's correspondence with his wife is of special interest because it contains his detailed personal reflections on subjects of contemporary interest, such as conditions in Nazi Germany during the period when Layard lectured there.
    Of interest in the correspondence with Layard's mother, Eleanor Gribble Layard, are references to the Layard family, for example the escape of Major Vandeleur from Germany during the first World War. Included in his mother's miscellaneous correspondence are an illustrated love letter (dated 1877) from her first beau, an aspiring artist; a letter dated 1907 from one of John's classmates about John at school; and a letter from Fanny Haddon (Mrs. A.C.) in 1914, thanking Mrs. Layard for letting her read John's letters from the Melanesian journey, and asking to be allowed to read the others which might arrive.
    Correspondence of Layard's father, George, includes letters George solicited from notable personages in 1913. These include letters or notes from composer Edward Elgar, philosopher Herbert Spencer, and writer H.G. Wells.
    The subseries "Patient Correspondence" is restricted. Much of this concerns details of treatment, including detailed descriptions of dreams. Many files include drawings or paintings by patients.
    WRITINGS OF LAYARD, the next largest series in the collection, are arranged chronologically, as well as can be determined, by time of writing; these include books published, articles printed in journals, papers and talks delivered, and drafts and notes for unpublished books. All of Layard's original handwritten notes from Malekula are here, as well as the hand-written and type-written drafts he made from these notes.
    Of interest is Layard's autobiography, which he wrote in snatches from the 1940s to the 1970s. This, along with the correspondence between Layard and his wife Doris, provide interesting insights into the political and intellectual climate in Europe during Layard's lifetime, particularly during the late 1930s when Layard was lecturing in Nazi Germany.
    Mary Book materials, in the WRITINGS OF LAYARD series, relate to Layard's psychological study of Mary Tritton, a project he conducted over a long period, from the late 1940s to the 1960s. Ms. Tritton granted Layard permission to publish his research on her, so the materials are here unrestricted. In this series can be found extensive files relating largely to Ms. Tritton's dreams, including drawings, paintings, and correspondence.
    The WRITINGS OF OTHERS series contains works collected by Layard and annotated by him. These include typescripts, reprints, and journals. Non-annotated writings of others have been separated to the Library's other collections. The Separation List (at the end of this register) is a list of these items.
    Of interest in the PERSONAL MEMORABILIA, in the "John Layard Memorabilia" subseries, is a brochure advertising a portable desk for field anthropologists, and the 1914 passenger list from Layard's Melanesian voyage. Also in this subseries are clippings retained by him, a 1951 Health and Nature (nudist) magazine, and a collection of erotic drawings. These reveal Layard's varied intellectual interests.
    Included among the Layard Papers are archeological artifacts from Melanesia, the Scilly Isles, and Nineveh. These are listed in the Container List under the title or subseries to which they relate.
    The final series contains original documents deemed too fragile for use. Brittle and high-acid content materials have been photocopied onto acid-free paper. The copies have been substituted and the originals have been placed in series order and must be consulted in place of these originals.


    The materials in boxes 89-98 and microfilm reels 62-72 contain correspondence concerning psychiatric treatment and cannot be used without the written permission of the subjects involved, should they still be living. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether the subject is still living.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Adler, Gerhard, 1904-
    Auden, W. H. (Wystan Hugh), 1907-1973
    Jung, C. G. (Carl Gustav), 1875-1925
    Layard, J. (John) -- Archives
    Ethnology -- Vanuatu -- Malekula
    Malekula (Vanuatu)